The Psychological Services Bureau’s (PSB) Health Occupations (HO) exam is designed to look for the knowledge and skills that are crucial to a successful training period and career in healthcare. This exam is used by many health-related schools and programs as part of their admissions process because of its long-standing success in showing which applicants will do well in healthcare related positions or not.
Who is Eligible?
There is a fee of around $25 to take the PSB-HO Aptitude exam. This depends heavily on the school you are applying through. You must register in advance.
Each school or educational program may have a different set of requirements you must have completed before or immediately after taking this exam. The admissions office or department should be able to let you know of any of these.
When and Where is it Taken?
The exam is most commonly held on health education or school campuses for admission purposes. Be sure to check with your specific school or education program about the times, dates, and locations for this exam.
The PSB maintains and controls all aspects of the exam. These are typically scheduled twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, in preparation for the start of upcoming healthcare professional education program semesters. However, some sites may hold the exam at different times of the year.
What Should I Bring?
It is important to arrive on time for your scheduled exam. Your school or program will most likely have a check-in process of some sort that is required to be finished before you start the exam.
Candidates who arrive late may not be allowed to test that day. It is often the case that those who show up late will have to not only reschedule but pay additional testing fees, some even have to begin the application/registration process over completely.
All personal items including but not limited to the following are not permitted in the testing area: calculators, food and drink, and electronic devices such as cell phones. You are allowed to use scratch paper and pencil for some sections. Be sure to check with your program or school to find out exactly what will and will not be allowed in the testing area.
What Does it Cover?
This exam is made up of five sections of multiple-choice questions. You are given a total of two hours and 30 minutes to complete it.
Below is a brief outline of those sections and the topics they will discuss.
Part 1: Academic Aptitude (75 questions/40 minutes)
This section will test your ability to understand the meaning of words in context as well as part of recall.
- Basic Operations – the adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing of integers, decimals, and fractions along with exponents and roots, order of operations, and associative and distributive properties
- Factors and Multiples – Prime numbers, factoring, and prime factorization including common multiples and factors
- Unit conversion
- Fraction basics – improper fractions and mixed numbers and how to convert and order them
- Fraction operations – adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions and how to convert them to percentages, mixed numbers, and improper fractions, and decimals
- Decimal basics – decimals, ordering decimals
- Decimal operations – adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing decimals as well as how to convert them to fractions, improper fractions, percentages, mixed numbers, and scientific notation
- Probability – theoretical and experimental probability
- Percentages, ratios, and proportions
These items deal with mental manipulation of visualization and measurement in regards to relationships and their differences.
Part 2: Spelling (45 questions/15 minutes)
Spelling is fairly self-explanatory. You will be asked to choose the correct spellings or incorrect spelling of words.
Part 3: Reading Comprehension (35 questions/35 minutes)
In this section, you will read passages and be expected to understand direct statements and supporting details, interpret written content, identify author’s intent, extract information from context, and observe organization of ideas.
Part 4: Information in the Natural Sciences (60 questions/25 minutes)
Natural Sciences deals with content related to biology, chemistry, and health safety.
Part 5: Vocational Adjustment Index (90 questions/15 minutes)
This section addresses your attitudes, feelings, opinions, behavior traits, and personality characteristics.
How is it Scored?
Scores are calculated onsite and will be available immediately after you finish a computer-administered version of this exam. If you have taken a paper and pencil format of the exam your scores are typically tallied within 24 hours of them being received by the testing center. Once scores for either version have been verified, they can be sent to the school or health program you are applying to.
Your score report includes your raw score (the number of correctly answered questions), your percentile rank for each section of the exam, a graph of this data and a verbal rating such as “very low” or “superior”. Your percentile rank indicates your performance in comparison with other test takers in a specific comparison group.
Each school or healthcare education program makes its own requirements for admission. Therefore, it is important that you check with your preferred program to see what scores you will need to achieve.
How Can I Prepare for the PSB-HO Test?
That’s a great question. We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.
- Do yourself a favor and study. Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try. Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping. All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance. If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
- Get a study guide or set of flashcards. Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them. We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam. Below you’ll see links to both!